Charles Leocha, publisher of the Tripso.com travel travel news and commentary site, recently posted an item titled "Web 2.0: Too much of a good thing?" that readers of this blog might find of interest. (You can also click on the title of this blog to go to his article.)
I read through his "article" (it is not a commentable blog) a couple of days ago and have been troubled by it since. He basically defines "Web 2.0" as user-generated websites, and cites two major uses of Web 2.0 for travel and tourism: sites where users rate places, and sites where users share travel experiences. He then cautions that both rating and sharing sites can be manipulated for insidious or untrustworthy commercial purposes, citing examples from MySpace.com and Sony Pictures -- not the most trustworthy spaces on the Internet, in my opinion.
Personally, I found the definition of Web 2.0 and the examples provided to be very narrow. Two key elements missing are (1) the community and social aspects of Web 2.0, which includes the importance of reputation and trust, and (2) the rich Internet user interfaces and applications (see Web 2.0 on Wikipedia).
Hotel ratings are one of the oldest, and still not very sophisticated, examples of Web 2.0 that Charles Leocha discusses. In fact, I am barely able to to even include TripAdvis0r.com in the realm of Web 2.0 -- it just feels more like a Web 1.0 free-for-all, lacking a real sense of community. I agree with Charles Leocha that it leaves the user with a sense of “Who can I trust?” I think that this is because its user base is so large (over 5 million reviews), that every possible opinion on any place can be found there. It lacks the strength of a Web 2.0 long tail niche community of like-minded users. In my opinion, TripAdvisor could use a major Web 2.0 work over -- more in the direction of 43Places.com. However, with their current use rates, I doubt that they have any incentive to do that!
Is Web 2.0 too much of a good thing? In my opinion, Travel 2.0 is in its infancy. Examples of websites that are exploring and pushing travel and tourism in the direction of user communities and rich interfaces are found in the postings on this blog.